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review 2020-05-23 19:47
Beast Master (manga, vol. 1) by Kyousuke Motomi, translated by JN Productions
Beast Master, Vol. 1 - Motomi Kyousuke

Yuiko loves all animals...so much so that she scares them away with the intensity of her affection. One evening, while trying to get her cat home after accidentally scaring it up a tree, she encounters a wild-eyed boy covered in blood. The next day at school she learns that he's Leo, a new transfer student in her class.

Leo is rumored to have gotten into a fight with a group of thugs and won, and everyone's scared of him. Everyone, that is, except Yuiko, who's fascinated by and jealous of the way animals trust him and easily come to him. She approaches him and quickly finds out that he's actually very gentle and sweet, if unused to living among people. Apparently he used to live on an uninhabited island.

However, Leo has a problem. Anytime he sees blood, he blacks out and turns violent - possibly a defense mechanism he developed while on the island, to help him survive against predators. When Yuiko witnesses one such incident, she learns that she can do something no one else has been able to do: tame the beast inside Leo and get him to calm down.

This wasn't a bad volume, although some of the over-the-top details were a bit much for my current mood - things like the stupid blowgun, the repeated appearances by "Boss", the tough-looking softie, and the as yet unexplained detail about Leo having a Japanese-German mercenary as his guardian. Yuiko also drove me a little nuts - she demonstrated that she knew how to coax animals to her but would then screw everything by grabbing the animals and trying to cuddle them like a little kid who hadn't been properly taught how to treat other living beings.

I'm not all that wild about the premise. Leo is a gentle guy, except when he sees blood, at which time he turns into a scary killer who may once have ripped a leopard's throat out during one of his blackouts. And of course Yuiko turns out to be the only person in existence who's ever been able to calm him down with her presence and voice alone. The first time she tries, though, she doesn't manage it until after Leo has bitten her hard enough to draw blood.

There's a bit at the beginning of the volume that irked me: Yuiko's classmates, and even Yuiko herself (that bugged me the most), think it's strange that Yuiko is 17 and is more interested in cuddling animals than chasing after boys. People were literally telling her to stop wasting her time with animals, and I had to grit my teeth.

Throughout most of the volume Leo and Yuiko's relationship is more sweet and platonic than anything. Leo comes across almost like a child. Then things shifted a bit at the very end, and suddenly Yuiko thinks Leo has "a faint manly scent that I hadn't noticed before," and ugh. Really?

I wasn't originally planning on continuing on, but as I was doing a little research prior to writing this review, I noticed that the series is only two volumes long. It feels weird quitting when I'm technically halfway through, so I might see about getting volume 2 from the library at some point.

Extras:

An extra unrelated short manga called "Fly" from early in the author's career. It's about a girl named Yui who's struggling because she wants to become a pilot even though her family expects her to go to medical school. She's convinced that if she sees a rainbow again before she graduates, her dream will come true, and her best friend Arata supports her. The story is pretty weak, although not as bad as the author's embarrassed one-page introduction led me to expect.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2020-05-23 15:14
Reading progress update: I've read 192 out of 192 pages.
Beast Master, Vol. 1 - Motomi Kyousuke

It's not bad, but it's over-the-top in ways that don't really work for me right now, and I'm a little uncomfortable with the premise for reasons I'm not sure I can articulate. The artwork looks like a million other shojo series.

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text 2020-05-23 14:30
Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 192 pages.
Beast Master, Vol. 1 - Motomi Kyousuke

This doesn't have page numbers, so I'm guessing.

 

Some no-context ridiculousness:

 

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review 2019-05-09 00:00
Beast Master's Planet: Omnibus of Beast Master and Lord of Thunder
Beast Master's Planet: Omnibus of Beast Master and Lord of Thunder - Andre Norton ‘Beast Master’s Planet’ contains two novels: ‘Beast Master’ and ‘Lord of Thunder’.

Meerkats! Nowadays these cute little critters are used to sell insurance comparison websites in England and everybody loves them. Back in 1959 when ‘The Beast Master’ was written they were not so well known, I bet.

The meerkats, an African black eagle and a large specially bred cat named Surra are the beast companions of Hosteen Storm, once a Galactic Commando with the Terran military, now a man without a home. Earth, the mother planet of the Confederacy, has been reduced to a radioactive cinder by the Xik in a war just finished and the Terrans who were not there have to be re-homed. At the start of ‘The Beast Master’, Storm is in a Separation Centre set up to restore the mental health of traumatised Terrans before moving them to other worlds. Hosteen Storm has chosen Arzor, a frontier planet where his Navajo skills may prove useful. There, giant beasts called Frawns roam the plains and are hunted for their waterproof skins and delicious meat. Humans co-exist with the native Norbies, brilliant horsemen, primitive and not unlike Amerindians in days of yore. It’s a natural home for Storm.

On landing at Arzor, he gets a job herding horses across country, his Beast Master skills obviously useful in taming the wilder ones. Soon he hears about Brad Quade, a big shot around those parts and the main reason he came to this planet. Hosteen Storm has a blood debt to pay with Quade, a man he has never met, as the result of an old family feud. The plot thickens nicely.

It’s all quite logical. Machines, parts and fuel would have to be expensively imported to frontier worlds so they do better using their own resources. So space westerns make sense and the genre is good fun, from Heinlein’s ‘Dora’ segment in ‘Time Enough For Love’ to the television cult classic series ‘Firefly’ which featured a few episodes of this ilk.

‘Beast Master’ starts off as mostly a western but soon develops into Science Fiction as other elements are added to the story. Westerns tell familiar yarns with familiar themes but the classics of the genre have more interesting characters and a bit more depth. Andre Norton wrote a classic space western in 1959 and it has withstood the test of time.

‘Lord Of Thunder’ is essentially more of the same. The briefest mention of the plot acts as a bit of a spoiler for the first book but sophisticated readers aged over four will realise that the hero probably survived that adventure. In ‘Lord Of Thunder’, there is trouble afoot with the native Norbies. They are having a gathering of the clans and retreating to the mountains to make ‘medicine’. The withdrawal of their labour will make life tough for the ranchers in the dry season. The plot gets complicated when Hosteen Storm is introduced to a very wealthy man called Gentle Homo Lass Widders. Gentle Homo, it seems, is the title given to a civilised chap from the inner worlds. If you called a British bloke ‘Gentle Homo’ thirty years ago you would have got a dirty look at best and possibly a punch in the nose. American slang may have been different. Anyway, the son of Widders was on a spaceship that hit an old mine from the late Xik war and managed to get aboard a lifeboat that crashed into the Blue, an area of Arzor where no man dares go due to bands of wild roaming cannibal Norbies. The Gentle Homo wants Hosteen Storm to go and rescue his son.

‘Lord Of Thunder’ wasn’t quite as enjoyable for me as the first book but it was perfectly good. It’s nice to get two novels in one volume. The double helping comes about because adventure novels were shorter fifty years ago. The late Andre Norton states, in an interview on her website, that back then she would write eighteen chapters of ten pages each and have a book of sixty-five thousand words which was perfectly acceptable to the boys on the business end. Nowadays, for economic reasons, publishers won’t settle for less than a hundred thousand words. We are poorer for this but electronic publishing is changing it slowly. Hurrah! The other good news is that Andre Norton’s estate was settled a while back and disputes over rights cleared up so more of her old classics are up for publication again. Hurrah! For a few of my teenage years, I was mad for Norton’s works and look forward to revisiting more in time to come. Judging by this pair, they are still good reads. The occasional leavening of exclamation marks merely adds to their pulpish charm.

Eamonn Murphy
This review first appeared at https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/

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review 2016-05-22 00:00
Beast Master, Vol. 1
Beast Master, Vol. 1 - Motomi Kyousuke Completed Series Rating
⭐️4.5 stars⭐️
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